Social Psychology

Student Learning Program

Chapter 1: A definition of social psychology (pp. 5–8)

Ask Yourself?

In this topic

  1. The Scientific Study… (p. 5)
  2. …Of the Effects of Social and Cognitive Processes (pp. 5–7)
  3. …On the Way Individuals Perceive, Influence, and Relate to Others (pp. 7–8)
The Scientific Study…

Social psychologists study social behavior in a systematic way, using scientific methods, constructed with the awareness of possible error. This to avoid misconceptions and distortions.

Case study: The principles of science

…Of the Effects of Social and Cognitive Processes

Social processes are the ways in which our thoughts, feelings, and actions are influenced by the people around us, the groups to which we belong, our personal relationships, the teachings of our parents and culture, and the pressures we experience from others.

Cognitive processes are the ways in which our memories, perceptions, thoughts, emotions, and motives guide our understanding of the world and our actions.

Emotion and motivation are intrinsic parts of cognitive processes.

Social and cognitive processes have intimate connections and operate together to influence our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors; (a) social processes affect us when others are not physically present, and (b) social processes affect us when others are present, depending on how we interpret others, and their actions. So by considering the group in the individual (a), insight is gained into an individual's cognitive processes in social contexts. By considering the individual in the group (b), it is examined how people affect our thoughts, feelings, and actions, which depends on cognitive processes.

…On the Way Individuals Perceive, Influence, and Relate to Others

Social psychology seeks to understand the social behavior of individuals; why people do what they do. The social and cognitive processes shape all sorts of social behavior. Understanding why people act the way they do helps to explain events in our lives, helps us to comprehend the factors that contribute to complex events, and allows us to develop solutions for social problems.

So what does this mean?

Social psychology studies the effects of social processes and cognitive processes on the way individuals perceive, influence, and relate to others, in a systematic way, using scientific methods, constructed with the awareness of possible error. Social and cognitive processes have intimate connections, and operate together to influence our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Social psychology seeks to understand the social behavior of individuals. This can help us to explain events in our lives, and to comprehend the factors that contribute to complex events, and allows us to develop solutions for social problems.

Next topic

Historical trends and current themes in social psychology

In this chapter

  1. Chapter 1 introduction
  2. A definition of social psychology
  3. Historical trends and current themes in social psychology
  4. How the approach of this book reflects an integrative perspective
  5. Fill-in-the-blanks
  6. Multiple-choice questions